Nsanje principal magistrate court has slapped two years jail sentence to Eric Aniva popularly known as ‘ Hyena man” for having sex with at least 100 girls and women in traditional cleansing rituals which the court said was“harmful practices” as he was also HIV-positive.
Principal Magistrate Innocent Nebi before delivering the sentence, said Aniva 45, who was prosecuted on the orders of President Peter Mutharika after publicly speaking about his role as a “hyena” in a BBC radio documentary earlier this year, took an advantage of the vulnerable women for the practice but also gaining some money out of the act.
Nebi further said Aniva showed no remorse during the entire hearing process therefore the court had to take a tough stance to and deter would be offenders.
“The convict had no regard to the feelings of widows, no regard to dignity of women and it is even doubtful that condoms were used,” the Magistrate said. “Such a culture has no place in Malawi.”
“Giving you a fine or suspended sentence is a mockery to justice. I convict you to serve 24 months’ imprisonment,” Nebi told Aniva in a packed courtroom.
“The court has sentenced you to 24 months for the first count of engaging in harmful practices and 10 months on second count of attempting to engage in harmful cultural practices. These sentences are supposed to be served concurrently with effect from the day he was arrested,” concluded Principal Magistrate Nebi.
However, Aniva’s lawyer Michael Goba Chipeta said he will launch an appeal at the High Court.
“This is a miscarriage of justice,” said lawyer Chipeta. “There were a lot of errors made in the conviction and sentencing.”
“ On the sentencing, the Gender Equality Act of 2013 provide and option of either fine or sentence which the magistrate did not consider.
“The 100 women who were claimed to have been involved in the practice none of them did not come in court to testify. What we were expecting was a fine or suspended sentence. We are going to appeal both the conviction and the sentence to the high court,” said Chipeta.
He repeated that the culture has been there for over 100 years while the laws against engaging in harmful practices were enacted some three years ago thus it is inhuman to give the convict a custodial sentence.
Dressed in a blue and white stripes golf shirt Aniva, who pleaded not guilty, did not look shaken as the Magistrate was pronouncing the sentence.
He said outside the courtroom that he “disappointed” with the jail term with hard labour “because I thought I would be given a suspended sentence.”
Custom in some parts of southern Malawi demands that a man, known as a “hyena”, is paid to have sex with bereaved widows to exorcise evil spirits and to prevent other deaths occurring.
At the request of a girl’s parents, the “hyena” is also paid to have sex with adolescent girls to mark their passage to womanhood after their first menstruation.
The charges, brought under the gender equality act, involved sex with bereaved widows as none of the younger girls would testify.Follow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :